Thoughts on Yitro

Firstly, I want to thank Nicole Goodman for her amazing work with the cohort that was here last week for our Elaine Breslow Institute (EBI). Nicole was her usual cheerful and kind self and made the week, which took a lot of time and planning, a joy for all of our participants and for the staff and residents who were the teachers. Nicole always says Hineni when called upon and I am so grateful!!

I am also grateful for the opportunity of leading our Elaine Breslow Institute. Working with the staff and residents here to pass along Addiction Recovery training and Relevant Judaism is an honor and pleasure. Thanks to the Board of Directors for entrusting me with this Holy Work and thank you to Elaine Breslow, z"l, who inspired this idea. Thanks also to Warren Breslow for helping to birth our Institute and to Dr. Garrett O'Connor, z"l, for his guidance and brilliance.

This week's Parasha is Yitro. This is the name of Moses' father-in-law. Yitro teaches Moses about respecting the dignity of another when you are in power. This is an important lesson for all people.

I want to focus on Chapter 19 of Exodus, this year. It begins with a recounting of the journey from Egypt to Mount Sinai. The Hebrew word for encampment is used in two different forms, singular, and plural. While we can see the reason according to grammar, Rashi, the most famous commentator on the Torah, says it connotes that the plural is used to show that people were encamped in their own worlds and, while part of the whole, were still separate from everyone. The second use, the singular, is to show that the People Israel were united and unified. I understand Rashi's reasoning by what follows next. God speaks to Moses and says: As you hear, listen and understand my voice and guard, care for and protect our Covenant... (my translation). The people were unified and united in making a Covenant with God. They were unified and united in hearing, listening and understanding God's Call. How are you united and unified with family, friends, community and yourself in hearing God's Call? What is the Covenant(s) you have made with God, family, and Community? How are you guarding and protecting your part of the Covenant(s)?

I am so overwhelmed by this understanding this year because I see how we get splintered by listening to the voices and calls of people who are not seeking unification through God's Call and God's Covenant with Israel at Sinai. I realize how often I get defensive and offensive at the words of others and stand against these words rather than standing for the Covenant of God and the Call of God's voice! I am ashamed and guilty. I am so deeply remorseful for these actions. As I sit here writing and realizing how split I have been from my own soul and the ways I have split myself off from others, I am in deep pain. Yet, I have to face the truth of my actions without hiding. Otherwise, I cannot fulfill another verse in this chapter, to "be a nation of Priests, a Holy Nation". I also see what my T'Shuvah is. I commit to not stand against another, rather I will stand up for God, Covenant, and Holiness. I have to do this in order to be united with God and everyone in searching for all the ways to fulfill the Call of God and our Covenant with God. I have to remember that all of us were at Sinai and we all heard the Call of God in our unique way and only by all of us connecting with the Call we heard, the Call of our Soul, can we become united and unified to fulfill the words of the Sh'ma, Adonai Ehad, we are part of the Oneness that is God through our uniting our unique Call with the unique Calls of everyone else.

Shabbat Shalom,

Rabbi Mark



Moral Emergency in Modern Times

Dear Beit T'Shuvah Community,


 As I have stated numerous times, Rabbi Abraham Joshua Heschel wrote to President John F. Kennedy on June 16, 1963 asking him to "declare a State of Moral Emergency". He also said to a group of Rabbis; "In a free society, some are guilty and all are responsible." Rabbi Heschel's life's work was to be involved in the affairs of humankind as the ultimate way to be involved in the affairs of God!  Rabbi Joachim Prinz, the Rabbi of the Jewish Community in Berlin under Hitler, said at theMarch on Washington in August of 1963; "The most shameful and tragic problem is silence. American must not be a nation of onlookers. America must not be silent."  We/I am descendants of the Prophets of Israel and, as such, I am called to speak and act in the best interests of all of humanity. This letter and other actions I take are in keeping with my understanding of God's Call to all of us; "Ayecha" where are you. This letter and my actions are my response of Hineni, here I am to God's Call.


I am engaged in an internal battle regarding the Policies that our current administration is implementing. While most of you know that I am the son and grandson of Workmen's Circle Jews and I favor inclusion and democracy, I am also aware that going too far in either direction is dangerous for everyone. This is not a political battle, rather it is a Spiritual and Moral issue for me. I know that some will read this as "another liberal rant" by the Rabbi. I am writing to you prior to any public involvement by me personally in no way am I speaking g for our Organization on Political Issues. ,


I am concerned! I am concerned about making people scapegoats, as Jews and Addicts/Alcoholics have been scapegoated forever (along with numerous other groups). I am concerned that getting rid of the regulations on our Financial Institutions will lead to another collapse. I am concerned that the "Putin/Trump Bromance" puts our Foreign Policy and our safety at grave risk. I am concerned that Tolerance is at risk. I am concerned that we are not living the words of Hiney Ma Tov U'Manayim- how good it is when people dwell together.


Most of all, I am concerned with the current Administration's and Congress' engagement in Mendacity. Both of these branches of Government are using people's desire to be deceived as clubs to make war on the Truth! This is what concerns and scares me the most. This assault is not "against the elite/liberals", rather it is an assault against Democracy. It is interesting that many of the rich and powerful "friends" of this Administration and Republican Leaders, are not considered "elite"!


I am writing this to you as your Rabbi who has stood against the "lies we tell ourselves" for the past 28+ years. I am not asking you to change party affiliations, I am not asking you to change your core beliefs. I am asking you to live your core beliefs more and listen to the noise of mendacity less. I am asking you to remember that our Grandparents, Parents, and maybe even some of you, were/are immigrants. I am asking you to remember that our Holy Bible warns against cozying up to power at the cost of Truth, Decency and Love. 36 times we are told to welcome the stranger, care for the downtrodden and live our Holiness daily. We are commanded to build space for God to dwell among us and as Rabbi Heschel teaches, if we harm anyone, we are harming God. He also teaches that prejudice is an "eye disease". We have to open our eyes to see our similarities, how all of us are created in the Image of God and to see Truth.


I am open to your comments and I believe we have to engage in dialogue about issues, not personalities. Mendacity is an issue, regulation is an issue. Democracy is a Principle that our Ancestors held dear and sacrificed much to give us a place to live free. Let us honor and uphold Democracy, Truth, Love and Holiness.



Rabbi Mark Borovitz

Senior Rabbi

Beit T'Shuvah



Self-deception is an eye diease.

“One of the major inclinations in every human being is a desire to be deceived. Self-deception is a major disease.” These words of Rabbi Abraham Joshua Heschel have rung in my ears from the first time I heard/read them. He said this in an interview with Carl Stern 10 days before his death in 1972. Here we are in 2017 and I am ashamed of how true this statement is today. Rabbi Heschel is one of our greatest teachers in how to BE human and while many people claim him as their teacher, how many of us are living his teachings?

Self-Deception is a major disease today, maybe even more than in 1972! I am beginning a blog on this topic at the direction of my friend and teacher, Rabbi Ed Feinstein. I will be using examples from my life, the lives of family and friends and happenings in the world to illustrate our inclination to be deceived and our own self-deception. Let us begin:

Self-deception is the state of being oblivious to, and afraid of, facing ourselves, facing God, and hearing the call of our soul/higher self. In my years as an alcoholic and criminal, I was afraid to see my true self and the damage I was causing to others. I hid from God by denying that God was concerned with anything I did and, every time I heard/felt the call of my soul- I drank so I wouldn't hear/feel my soul. I deceived myself with so many lies and misstatement of facts that I couldn't tell fact from fiction! I also kept repeating the lies so much that I and many others started to believe them.

This is true for almost all addicts/alcoholics and many, many "normal" people. I have watched families believe the lies they tell themselves and then ask me "how could this have happened to me/my family?" I watch people, in their self-deception, engage in moral equivalency. I watch and hear people, in their self-deception, make stereotypes of people they determine as "other". Slavery, prejudice, hatred, etc. all begin with self-deception. In our self-deception, we believe the lies and deception of another. Rabbi Heschel calls prejudice an "eye disease". Self-deception is also an "eye disease". It is the covering up of the eyes of our soul which tell us truths that we feel/think we need to hide from.

Stay tuned for my next installment on these topics.



Chesbon HaNefesh: An Accounting of the Soul

I want to thank all of you for reading my Parshiot each week. I also want to wish you all a L'Shana Tova uMetuka, a good and sweet new year. I am very excited about our High Holy Days Services and our entire year of Temple and Living Well speakers and events. You will be informed of all of our events and hope you will join us!


I want to thank Cheryl Wolf for her untiring dedication to Congregation Beit T'Shuvah and all of it's members. Cheryl is always saying "Hineni" when asked for anything. Cheryl is a prime example of the employees at Beit T'Shuvah, caring, hardworking and living a life of T'Shuvah/Recovery. Thank you Cheryl!


This week's Parsha is Nitzavim. This translates to 'standing'. In today's world, many of us are asked who do we stand for? I think this is the wrong question. One of the questions that has haunted me this week is: What am I standing for? In the Parsha, Moses tells us that we are standing before God. In many Temples, the phrase "Da Lifne Atah Hu Omade" is on the wall/Ark. "Know before Whom you stand" haunts me at times. I am asking myself and I ask you, are you/I aware you/I are standing before God all the time? I am not always aware of this and this saddens me and propels me to be more aware more often. I know my actions don't always show that God is with me or even around me.


I am sorry to all of you for the times I have acted as if I am God and not seen the Divine in you. I commit to do better and I know I won't be perfect. I am suggesting to all of us that we think more about where we are standing so we remember that God is among us!


Another haunting question is: what do each of us stand for? Do we, individually and communally, stand for the Covenant with God? Do we stand for our own self-interests? Do we stand for Rabbi Heschel's concept: "the interests of others should be our concerns"?  I ask myself each day, do my words and actions match? Do I live my principles out loud? How am I growing and doing one grain of sand more each day?


In doing my own Chesbon HaNefesh, I acknowledge the times that I fall short/miss the mark of my goals and your expectations. These times bring me great pain and sorrow. I commit to make these times less in this coming year. I also have pride in the times when I hit the mark of my goals and your expectations. I want you to expect me to be who I am. I am a flawed human being who works hard to respond to each experience that I see, hear and am called to. I don't always do it. I won't always do it. I don't and won't always do it well. My way of being seems reactive at times, this is because I take your life and mine so/too seriously at times and am filled with trembling fear. This is not an excuse, it is a fact and an admission. I am working to balance your needs, the needs of Beit TShuvah, the community, my family and my own needs. Sometimes, I miss the mark. I ask you to talk to me about it rather than write me or Beit TShuvah or Judaism off.


I am asking you to do this same Accounting of your Soul. Give yourselves a break, you and I are not perfect! That's why we need to remember we stand before God and with community. We need to remember that we stand for the principles of our Covenant with God, partner, family, community, etc. As we get ready to choose the life we want in this next year, please remember to go to Temple, hopefully our Services:) because you are choosing where and with whom you are standing. Please also remember, as I learned from Rabbi Harold Schulweis, 36 times Torah tells us to care for the poor, the stranger, the widow and the orphan. We are not talking only monetarily here, we are talking about people who are cut off/orphaned from spirit, joy, dignity and living well. Shabbat Shalom and Shana Tova, Rabbi Mark 



T'Shuvah: Repentance, Return, and Response

T'Shuvah, according to our mystical tradition was put into the world before the world was created. I understand this teaching as God knew we were imperfect and wanted us to have a way back when we erred. TShuvah is translated as Repentance, Return, and Response. This is the "work" of the month of Elul. It is our statement of our own imperfection and our desire of wanting to repair damaged relationships and return to a state of connection. TShuvah is also a concept that says CHANGE IS MANDATORY! There is a saying that goes "a leopard doesn't change it's spots". TShuvah says that humans do and must change. The world thinks that once you say something, if you change your mind because of new data, you are 'flip-flopping.' In the real world, if you don't change your mind when new data is presented, you are stuck and stale. The month of Elul is our opportunity to get unstuck and freshen up our lives.


Another aspect of T'Shuvah is HOPE. Because we are able to repair old damages and see the good we have done/created in the past year(s), we can live Hope. Hope is a state of being, not a feeling. It is a state of being because we KNOW that things will change, we are the agents of change and "be the change we want to see". Each day we wake up to a new day and new possibilities. T'Shuvah helps us live Rabbi Abraham Joshua Heschel's teaching: "No two moments are alike." Living in the state of being of Hope allows us to appreciate each moment and, like Rabbi Heschel, be surprised all the time.  Tomorrow I will start different ways to be in the process of Tshuvah.



We, The People, have to stop the hatred!

We, The People have to stop the hatred and fear that is rampant in our culture today. The Police killings of Black Men has to end!#BlackLivesMatter is not just a Hashtag- it is a Truth! In fact#Alllivesmatter is also a truth! "Evil flourishes when good people do nothing" is more that a slogan, it is an Eternal Truth! How do we change our current culture? What is the action Good People have to take?

I believe in Rabbi Abraham Heschel's teaching "prejudice is an eye disease". We have to first change the lens of fear and hatred that we see the world through, we see our neighbors thru and we see ourselves through. I agree with Rabbi Heschel when he says "suspect your neighbor" has become the watchword instead of "love your neighbor".

We can end this culture by seeing each person as a "Divine Reminder and a Divine Need" as Rabbi Heschel said in 1972! How do we do this? I have done this through these ways:
1) Accept who I am, made in the Image of God, with all of my talents and gifts and imperfections.
2) See the Divine in every other human I encounter and, when necessary, agree to disagree. Knowing that the other person(s) may be right and explore through dialogue when I need to change my vision.
3) Constantly and consistently look inside myself and enhance my gifts and talents and repair my errors and when I miss the mark.
4) Know that I need another(s) to live well, as the Bible says, "it is not good for Adam to live alone". Remembering that everyone matters!
5) Live life through the Principles of Truth, Kindness, Grace, and Compassion and Love.
6) Live our gratitude out loud.

Remember that God lives in and with each individual and each community and every space in the world. Remember that each life is a gift and we are responsible to care for and use our gifts with respect and to the fullest we can In each moment.

These are the ways that I have to overcome my hatred and fear. I recommend them to everyone.



Daily Prayer 40

"God guards all God's loves and the Negative God destroys." (Ashrei Prayer)

The verses of this prayer, as I am 'davening' them in these writings, are so powerful and teach me how brilliant the Psalmist is! I have to remember that I/we are all protected by God by loving God, God's creations and ourselves. I am thinking of Rabbi Hillel's words, "If I am not for myself who will be for me? If I am only for myself, what am I? If not now, when?" I have to be for me and for you and for we and for all. There can be no distinction based on race, color, creed, religion, etc. I/we have to guard ourselves and another in order to fulfill this verse.


Also, we have to discern the negativity in ourselves,others and the world. Not to destroy people or the earth, only to root out and destroy the negativity that doesn't serve God. The Yetzer HaRa can serve God as we saw in an earlier prayer (Y'Hi Ratzon) and it can destroy the positive and good in the world and in us. We/I have to work with another(s) to root out and transform the negative impulses such as greed, false ego, entitlement, etc. in order to guard love and joy.

1)    How am I helping myself and another to guard what is loving and good in us/the world?

2)    How am I riding myself of the "eye disease" of prejudice?

3)    What are the ways I help myself and another to transform the negativity in us to serve God and the world? 



Daily Prayer 39

"God approaches all who call God, all who call God in Truth." (Ashrei Prayer)

Here it is, the formula for a good life and I keep forgetting it. I have called to God at many and all times in my life. I am not sure that prior to Recovery, I called to God in Truth. Even now, when I call out to God to help me out of a jam, I am not sure that this is what King David had in mind. I believe that King David was/ is talking about the call to God from my soul, my deepest depths of being. This is different than calling from my fears/neediness of mind and emotions. I am really overwhelmed by how I can call out to God from a "lower truth" place. This is the place of true to my feelings and/or thoughts yet not true to my Soul/Spirit.


I have to approach God. Even though God is searching for me and calling to me, I still have to turn and approach. I have to do this from my Soul and allow my mind and emotions mature enough to be in sync with my Spirit. It is my obligation and the gift God has given to me/us.

1)    How am I going to approach God in/with Truth of my Soul?

2)    How do I discern between my mind and emotions (lower truth) and soul (higher truth)?

3)    What keeps me oblivious to God's call? 



Daily Prayer 38

"You open Your hand and fulfill all needs of the living." (Ashrei Prayer)

This verse kind of says it all and we keep forgetting this Truth. I forget that God's "hand" is always open and I lack nothing. What is especially poignant to me is that I can't "depend" on a Supernal force to do for me what I can do for myself nor can I let someone else's authentic needs not be fulfilled by me when and where I can. Since we are Partners with God in making the earth a little better each day, we/I are/am obligated to open my hands to all who cross my path and, I would add, to look for those outside of my area that I can assist.


This is not asking for and giving a "hand out"! It is me fulfilling my obligation to help others. It is my obligation to ask for help from others. It is also my obligation to forgoe my inauthentic needs in order to meet and fulfill my authentic needs and yours. This verse is a reminder to me that I am not a "victim", yes stuff has happened to me and I don't have to be defined by that stuff. Rather, I can and must define myself by the good that has happened.

1)    How do I forget the Truth that I lack nothing?

2)    What are the ways that I am being a Divine Partner and fulfilling the authentic needs of others?

3)    What inauthentic needs am I letting go of this day/week/year? 



Daily Prayer 37

" God protects the fallen and straightens the bent." (Ashrei Prayer)

These words are making me cry right this moment. With the turmoil that is going on inside of me and in the world, I/we forget that God/Divine Energy is here for us and we don't' realize it because of fear/despair. What am I afraid of? I won't have enough, which is ridiculous based on my history, the history of my family, my people, and the world. I have fallen so often and God has protected me- even when I wasn't aware of God's protection and only saw/see it in hindsight. Here, King David is giving us Prophecy and we say the words and don't immerse ourselves in them enough for them to be part of our consciousness.


The challenge for all of us is, of course, to learn from our mistakes, know that we will continue to fall and get up, know that we will get bent/crooked and can be straightened. How do all these things happen? Not by magic, not by might, not by punishment, rather by experiencing consequences through love and connection. We also have to be God's helpers and help the fallen and the bent by remembering our own falls and when we were/are bent.

1)    How do I remember that I am/have enough?

2)    What do I learn from each of my "falls"?

3)    How can I learn that consequences are not punishments, actually they are loving? 



Daily Prayer 36

"Adonai is Gracious and Compassionate, slow to anger and great in kindness." (Ashrei Prayer)

This Psalm is all about the different attributes of God. I read with my eyes, declare with my lips and hear these with my ears, thereby engaging three of my senses so I truly take these attributes and words into my beingness. This is the great challenge. Prayer is an action! We are having a conversation with The Ineffable One and with the Ineffable part of ourselves. This verse is calling me to understand and imbue the attributes that it takes to dwell in God's House so we, too, can be happy. God's Grace is all around us and we ignore it so often. God's Compassion envelops us and we complain about almost everything.


These attributes are ones that we need to practice daily and really make them part of way of living. It is so hard at times, which is why, I believe, King David wrote these words. He knew how difficult it is to live these attributes and, when he didn't, he would call out for God to help him live them. These words/attributes are put into the world for us to experience them and live them with others. As we repeat them each day, may we all live them one grain of sand more each day also.

1)    How am I imbuing my being with God's attributes?

2)    What are the ways I practice compassion and grace?

3)    When am I living with great kindness and when am I too sensitive/quick to anger?



Daily Prayer 35

"Great are the vast praises of/to God and the greatness of God is beyond searching." (Ashrei Prayer)

In this verse, we are again committing to praise God- aware that we can only scratch the surface. This, again, is where I experience Rabbi Heschel's words that "Prayer may make us worthy of being saved". I experiencethe greatness of God in my life daily. I am alive and well. I get to live my life's script in an amazing family, community, world. I no longer almost and feel abandoned. I am connected to the Universe, to individuals, to love, to Truth, to justice, to compassion, to empathy, etc. There is just no amount of words that I have to express all of this. So, my words and actions have to intimate and suggest to others how I praise God.


Many people ask "where is/was God in all of the tragedies that have/will happen". I believe King David, who experienced many tragedies, is telling us that when we ask this question, we are asking the wrong question. I believe that this question is the impetus for the "Footprints" poem. King David's response to tragedy and joy is to not search for God, rather be Godlike. This is an entirely different question. I don't have to wonder what would God want me to do in ______ situation, the right question (in my opinion) is how do I live Godlike in the face of _____.

1)    What is my need to put words to indescribable experiences?

2)    How do I experience the greatness of God each day?

3)    When am I going to give up old ways of avoiding being responsible for my life and the lives of others?



Daily Prayer 34

"The strength of Your Awe we will speak of andwe will tell stories of Your greatness." (Ashrei Prayer)

I struggled for a long time with this verse. I wrongly interpreted this verse. I got afraid of the way it is translated, 'awesome power' - and I had an aversion to the word power, especially coupled with awesome. I now realize that from being in a state of Awe strengthens my connection to God and that in turn strengthens my soul/spirit. This State of Awe then both shows me ways to exalt and bless God and to exalt and bless other humans. I bless and exalt other humans when I see their Divinity. I bless and exalt other humans when I honor their dignity. When I speak about the strength that Awe of God gives me and you, when I live in the State of Awe and speak from this state of being, others will hear and join, I believe the Psalmist is teaching us.


Telling stories is the best way to communicate ideas that are beyond reason. I believe that is why we have fables, homilies, drashes, etc. In this verse, I am committing to communicate that which is beyond the mystery of living, beyond our ability to comprehend and give others the opportunity to apprehend. In the State of Awe, there are no words that can describe what we are experiencing. Stories can intuit and intimate to others the experience and we have to know that this is good enough!

1)    When are you living in a State of Awe?

2)    How does God's Awesomeness strengthen you?

3)    What are the ways you intuit to others the experience of Awe?



Daily Prayer 33

"I will exalt you, my Sovereign, and I will bless Your name forever." (Ashrei Prayer)

After proclaiming our joy and blissful state from being in God's House(this world), we declare another way to stay in the awareness of where we live. We exalt God through our works. We exalt God through our prayers and words. We exalt God through the ways we embrace all of God's Creations. It is so hard to be in this state 24/7. We are, after all, fallible humans. The verbs used in this Psalm are in the future tense. As I have said many times, future tense in Biblical Hebrew denotes something that we have started and haven't yet completed. Whew, I realize that my life with God and others is a work in progress


Exalting and Blessing are ways of being in the world that honors our soul, the soul of another, and the Will of The Infinite One. King David, who the Psalms are attributed to, was an imperfect person who continually made progress in his own humanity and how he treated others- one grain of sand at a time. This Psalm reflects his and our yearning and commitment to God and to honoring, exalting and Blessing God, Creation, humanity and ourselves. To do this, we have to "surrender" our false self to God. We have to allow ourselves to be confronted and defeated by a Higher and Truer Being (Higher Truth), to paraphrase Rav Soleivetchik. This, I believe is the path to Blessing God's Name forever, our continued growth and continued "surrender".

1)    What are the actions I take that exalt God?

2)    How am I acknowledging my yearning and commitment to God and God's Will?

3)    When am I aware of my surrender to God and when I am still fighting God? 



Daily Prayer 32

"Happy is the person who dwells in Your House, we praise You always." (Ashrei Prayer)

This opening verse of the Ashrei Prayer says it all to me. Ashrei can also be translated as 'testify', 'praise' 'bliss', 'acknowledge', etc. I realize that we all dwell in God's House because all the earth is the Lord's ( a title of one of Rabbi Heschel's books). I would like to retranslated this prayer to "Blissful is the person who dwells in Your House, we acknowledge You always." We have the opportunity to be in a state of Bliss because we live in God's world. This means that instead of serving ourselves, we need to be more aware of how we serve God. When the interests of others become our concerns, we serve God. When we live our unique passion and purpose, we serve God. When we stop comparing and competing, we serve God. When we live from our Divine Image/Soul we serve God.

The key for me is to acknowledge this Truth. I find myself forgetting to acknowledge the Blissful state I am in when I remember who's world this is. Acknowledging begets awareness on a deep level in my being. When I acknowledge I am dwelling in God's House, I am immersed in my life, your life and God's life.

1)    What are the ways I acknowledge that I live in God's House?

2)    How do serve God in my everyday living?

3)    What does it take for me to acknowledge the Blissfulness of my life? 



Daily Prayer 31

''God's Glory is forever, God rejoices in God's creations...many are the thoughts of humans and God's guidance prevails...God doesn't/will not cast off God's people nor forsake God's inheritors. God of Mercy forgives errors...God answers us on the day we call" (Morning Songs)

This prayer/song is one of the many 'songs of our souls'. It is not a petition to God, as sometimes thought, I believe it is a declaration of what we all know to be true.  It is so amazing that God rejoices in and with us. Living this truth happens when we realize and make a decision to live in "radical amazement" (Rabbi Heschel's philosophy). Living in the experience of Radical Amazement gives us the vision to see Truth in all of our affairs. Knowing that God rejoices in us, and all of creation, also obligates us to care for ourselves and all of God's creations, including other human beings.

Living this 'song of our soul' imbues us with the courage to use God's guidance in all of our affairs. Living this 'song of our soul' gives us the courage to change our ways and recover our authentic self through T'Shuvah, Tzedakah, and T'Fillah knowing we are not cast off and obligates us to not cast off others when they err. We are the heirs of God and we have to forgive, call to God and answer the calls of others.

1)    What are the times and ways I rejoice with God?

2)    How am I living in Radical Amazement and following the guidance of God?

3)    How am I being true to the obligations of being an heir of God?



Daily Prayer 30

"A song of thanksgiving... Serve God with joy...Adonai is good, Adonai's kindness endures forever and God's faithfulness is for all time." (Psalm 100)

This Psalm is such a comfort to immerse ourselves in. It is so important to not just say this prayer, we have to be this prayer (and every prayer). The Truths contained in this prayer epitomize Rabbi Heschel's teaching that prayer can make us worthy of being saved to me. We are taught to experience serving God with joy. How do we serve God? By serving others, by living our authentic life script/calling. We can serve with joy whether we are appreciated or scorned. This is definitely a work in progress for me!

The ending of this Psalm teaches us, reminds us that God's Kindness endures forever. This is a Truth that I/we tend to forget easily. Nothing in this prayer says life is going to be smooth or easy, rather these words remind me how I experience life Is my choice. As I write this, I am overwhelmed by Rabbi Heschel's optimism in the face of pessimism. He truly lived this concept and appreciated God's Kindness even when humans weren't kind! The call of this Psalm to/for me is to be faithful from one experience to the next, no matter what the experience is, "good or bad".

1)    What are the ways I serve God/humans/entire world with Joy?

2)    How am I staying faithful to God/my authentic self?



Daily Prayer 29

"Cause your people to be saved, Bless us, your inheritors and tend to us, lift us up forever." (Morning Prayers)

As I read this prayer, I am in Radical Amazement as I experience all that God gives us! This prayer teaches me that when I listen and follow the call of my soul/God's Ayecha, I am saved from my own inauthentic needs. I am able to realize how Blessed I am, even when feeling it not. I/we have all been saved because of God's Wisdom that is placed within us and it happens whenever and wherever we 'let God in' as the Kotzker Rebbe teaches us.


The second half of this sentence reminds me that I am one of God's people and I am never alone. As the 23rd Psalm says, "God is my Shepherd and I lack no thing". Immersing myself in this prayer and these words brings me to a state of being grateful, a state of no unhealthy fears, and a state of awareness of Grace that God grants me today and every day. I am lifted up from my sadness/despair forever, unless I choose to stay there! This prayer tells me I am never alone unless I choose to isolate and hide from God.

1)    What are the inauthentic needs you are being saved from?

2)    How are you hiding from God and your soul?

3)    When and how do you experience God's Blessings and God's Grace?



Daily Prayer 28

"You have compassion and atonement for error and You do not destroy... You, God, never withdraw mercy from us..."( from Morning Song prayers)

I love these ideas. We have a tendency to blame God or ask God 'where were you when ___ (something bad) happened to us?' Yet, this prayer, we say it each morning, tells us that God has compassion and grants us atonement for our error and doesn't destroy us! How do we reconcile this? Many people say "it is God's Will" and I disagree with this statement. God's Will, as this prayer teaches us is: Compassion, Atonement, and Mercy as well as other things. This is not to say bad things don't happen (I have much experience in bad things happening), it is saying that a lot of bad things that happen to us happen because of other humans, not God! In fact, sometimes, if we do a root cause analysis, we find that we are the cause of bad things happening.


I am not saying that we are responsible for all tragedies- I am saying that many of the evils perpetrated upon us are caused by other humans, not God- as I understand this prayer. I also am saying: just as God shows us compassion and atonement, so too do we have to do the same to ourselves and others. This is not "airy-fairy" whitewashing of errors/wrongdoing- rather I believe it is still seeing the humanity of the perpetrator of evil/bad. To me, this means that I have to have compassion for those who harm me, while still protecting myself from further harm. I have to ask for Atonement from and give compassion to the people I have harmed. This is how I act as a Divine Need and Reminder. It is how I live up to the best of my Divine Image. It is not easy and each of us is capable of doing this.

1)    How am I shirking my responsibility and the responsibility of others by saying "It is God's Will"?

2)    When am I the root cause of error in my life and the lives of others?

3)    What are the ways I live Compassion, Atonement and Mercy in my daily living?